Wilmington Trust announced today that it will merge with M&T Bank Corporation. Here's an excerpt from the press release:
Its merger with Wilmington Trust will extend M&T’s community banking franchise, and add to its market-leading positions in Upstate New York, Central Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region. M&T will acquire 48 branch locations in Delaware and 225 ATMs, and there is no overlap between branch networks. Following completion of the merger, M&T will operate approximately 800 branches and 2,000 ATMs in eight states, the District of Columbia and Ontario, Canada.
M&T expects to gain approximately $8.3 billion in deposits and $8.1 billion in loans from the merger (before acquisition accounting adjustments), giving M&T the top deposit share and a leading commercial lending position in Delaware.
For us savers, the noteworthy issue is that WTDirect is a division of Wilmington Trust FSB which is part of the bank holding company Wilmington Trust Corporation.
The worrisome issue for us savers is that M&T Bank hasn't been kind to its internet savings accounts. One of its internet divisions, OnBank, used to have a competitive savings account in 2008, but in 2009 the rate plummeted to 0.50%, and it's still 0.50% as of today. M&T Bank also offers the e-Money Market from its main bank website. Its rate also fell to 0.50% in 2009 and it remains at 0.50% as of today.
It's still too early to know how this merger will affect WTDirect. According to the press release, the merger is expected to close by mid-year 2011. After that I'm sure it'll take many months for the conversion to take place. Even after the merger, it's possible that M&T Bank will let WTDirect to continue without change. We'll have to hope that will be the case.
Even though WTDirect's savings account hasn't offered the best interest rates, it has remained competitive (1.21% APY for $10K+ as of 11/01/2010). Many customers joined to take advantage of the previous new-account bonuses of up to $500. Readers have reported that they not only received the bonus, but they were also offered an additional interest rate after the bonus period as an incentive to keep their money at WTDirect.
In my September WTDirect poll I asked how many WTDirect bonus customers planned to keep their money at WTDirect after the 3-month promo ended. Out of the 32 who responded, 14 said they planned to keep all of their money that they had deposited for the May promo at WTDirect. The extra interest rate was one reason, but high-quality customer service was another important factor.
However, not all readers have been happy with WTDirect, one reader gave a review noting the long 4-day delay for standard bank-to-bank ACH transfers. Also noted were issues with the website design and the login interface.
I described many of WTDirect's online banking features in my May review.